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Establishing the fresh water snail, Biomphalaria glabrata as a new model of ageing to study the effects of senotherapeutic drugs on life-span

Biomphalaria glabrata is a freshwater tropical snail that is the intermediate host for the human neglected disease Schistosomiasis. Our laboratory have evidence that a mechanism that regulates gene movement in human cells is present in this molluscan model organism. We have also discovered that this same mechanism consisting of nuclear motor proteins is not functional in old snails. This makes this organism, an ideal animal to establish a new whole organism model to investigate this nuclear motor complex, essential for chromatin dynamics but also how to reinstate its function in old snails using various methods for intervention. This project will entail investigating the components of the nuclear motor complex, assays using fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH), bio-imaging and image analysis, performing CRISPR/cas9 genomic engineering in the snail and/or in a B. glabrata cell line.


  • The snail Biomphalaria glabrata as a model to interrogate the molecular basis of complex human diseases. Bridger JM, Brindley PJ, Knight M. PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2018 Aug 9;12(8):e0006552. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0006552
  • The Compatibility Between Biomphalaria glabrata Snails and Schistosoma mansoni: An Increasingly Complex Puzzle. Mitta G, Gourbal B, Grunau C, Knight M, Bridger JM, Théron A. Adv Parasitol. 2017;97:111-145. doi: 10.1016/bs.apar.2016.08.006.
  • Epigenetic modulation, stress and plasticity in susceptibility of the snail host, Biomphalaria glabrata, to Schistosoma mansoni infection. Knight M, Ittiprasert W, Arican-Goktas HD, Bridger JM. Int J Parasitol. 2016 Jun;46(7):389-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2016.03.003.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Joanna Bridger - I have been at Brunel University London since the start of this century. This is when I established my own independent laboratory - The Laboratory of Nuclear and Genomic Health. Our research concerns how the genome is spatially organised, influenced and manipulated within its environment, the cell nucleus. The group has had a number of major advances and is currently focused on aspects of genome behaviour in replicative senescence, the premature ageing disease Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome, host:pathogen interactions and female cancers. We are wish to understand how structures such as the nuclear lamina, nucleoskeleton and nuclear motors influence the functionality of the genome. I also teach Cell Biology at levels 2 and 3, Developmental Biology at level 2, Gene Expression and Epigenetics and Cellular and Organismal Ageing at Masters level. The lab is always full of PhD, Masters and undergraduate students doing their various projects.  I am also the Head of the Genome Engineering and Maintenance network established from the depth and interest in Genome Biology that has developed over time in Biosciences at Brunel. My other role is External Engagement where I organise all the external interactions we have in our division